Formal Opinion No. 508
February 25, 2002
INSURANCE COVERAGE — CONTACTING A DEFENDANT'S INSURER
An Attorney does not violate his ethical duties by contacting a defendant's Insurer directly, so long as the Attorney does not actually know that the Insurer is represented by counsel in the matter.
California Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 2-100(A).
Utah State Bar Ethics Advisory Committee, Opinion No. 98-07
Cal. State Bar Formal Opn. No. 1996-145
Cal. State Bar Formal Opn. No. 1993-131.
Gregory v. Gregory (1949) 92 Cal.App.2d 343
In re Inuz (Vt. 1992) 616 A.2d 233
San Diego Navy Fed. Credit Union v. Cumis Ins. Soc. (1984) 162 Cal.App.3d 358
State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Federal Ins. Co . (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 1422
Truitt v. Superior Court (1997) 59 Cal.App.4th 1183
Waller v. Kotzen (1983 C.D. Pa.) 527 F.Supp. 424
FACTS AND ISSUES PRESENTED
Attorney represents Plaintiff in suing Defendant. Attorney learns that Defendant has an insurance policy that might provide coverage for Plaintiff's claim, but Defendant has advised Attorney that it will not submit the matter to its Insurer. Attorney believes that the involvement of Insurer will facilitate a beneficial resolution of the matter for Plaintiff.
May Attorney contact Insurer without violating any ethical duties?
Rule 2-100(A) of the California Rules of Professional Conduct restricts the ability of lawyers to make contact with other persons with an interest in a matter. This Rule provides: